Syrian Refugees: Compassion or Common Sense?
With regard to Rob Eshman’s column “#WeAreNext” (Nov. 27), there have been very strong views expressed in the Jewish Journal that for the U.S. to reject Syrian refugees because of their Islamic faith would be both un-Jewish and un-American. I both accept and respect that view, especially as my own grandparents and father were forced to become refugees from Nazi Germany after Kristallnacht.
But idealism and sterling values are one thing. Pragmatism and reality can often, sadly, be another. Although it is true that in a perfect world we should welcome any refugee and offer him or her our assistance and care, we cannot be so blinded by our commitment to doing what is right that it results in consequences we later regret. At the very least, we should be entitled to ask tough questions. For example, why are most Islamic countries not offering to take in these Syrian refugees? Is it possible that jihadist groups are taking advantage of our generosity of spirit? And if so, what should we do to protect ourselves? Would we be right to demand that refugees express some kind of commitment to democratic values, and to refuse entry to those who hate the United States, or democracy, or other faiths?
Do these questions make anyone un-Jewish, or un-American? Personally, I think not. Sometimes standing up for what you believe requires nuance, flexibility, tough choices and reflective judgment. It is certainly never the case that one size fits all.
Rabbi Pini Dunner, Young Israel of North Beverly Hills
Is B.H. Fight With Metro B.S.?
The Jewish Journal’s quote of the week in the Nov. 20 issue, in reference to Beverly Hills’ conflict with Metro, was former County Supervisor (and Metro macher) Zev Yaroslavsky’s zinger: “Fighting Metro is not a construction project, it’s a destruction project.”
There is so much arrogance and ignorance rolled into Yaroslavsky’s statement, it could easily give rise to a new portmanteau to describe the chutzpah: arrogrance.
It is hard to know where to begin, though correcting a major deficiency in the article from which the quip was lifted would probably be a good start (“Budgets Grow, Tempers Shrink as B.H. Metro Fight Continues”). Beverly Hills has never tried to stop the subway. The sole issue for Beverly Hills has been the routing, which was suddenly changed to benefit a powerful developer donor, all in the face of ridership, transit time and cost factors that would favor the original route.
Ironically, it was Yaroslavsky himself who — against Metro staff’s recommendation — killed a mediated settlement, brokered by a retired superior court judge, which would have resolved all issues between Beverly Hills and Metro. Unfortunately, part of his legacy as one of the “five kings” seems to be the arrogrance of institutional bullying with the unique message, embodied in his quote above: Resistance is futile.
John Mirisch, Vice mayor, Beverly Hills
Thank you, Bill Boyarsky, for saying what dearly needs to be said publicly, even if it’s apparently falling on deaf ears back in Chicago (“Once-Great Los Angeles Times,” Nov. 27). The steady decline of the Los Angeles Times has been absolutely heartbreaking to see and watch. I can only hope that Eli Broad, et al., can somehow pry that once-great paper from Tribune Publishing Co.’s clutches before it’s too late, and breathe some new and sorely needed life into Southland journalism.
Donald Koepler via jewishjournal.com
A Word From a YULA Student
Thank you for the article about a gap year in Israel (“Filling the Gap: The Case for Post-High School Year in Israel,” Nov. 13). I strongly support that students should have a gap year in Israel and I believe more people should spend a year in Israel after high school.
It is sad that not enough people appreciate how a gap year can help them. A gap year would broaden the person’s perspective and increase the students’ appreciation for Israel and Judaism. I also believe that it would help smooth the transition from high school to college.
More colleges should support a gap year.
I hope this article raises awareness of the benefits of the gap year, and I look forward to taking a gap year in Israel.
Menachem Kornreich, YULA
The article “U.S. Teen’s Murder in Israel Ripples Among L.A. Parents” (Nov. 27) incorrectly stated that Avishai Rabin is Jeffrey and Amy Rabin’s sixth child to do a gap year in Israel. He is their fourth child to do so.
A profile of comedy executive Brian Volk-Weiss (“When This Comedy Production Exec Describes His Life, He Is Totally Not Joking,” Nov. 27) should have stated that the company he runs, Comedy Dynamics, is one of Netflix’s top sources of stand-up comedy shows, not its top source.